Art, Tech And Hemp Combines For Modern Château Living

A chic Parisian couple decamped to Le Château du Marais for their ambitious enterprise.

By Christopher Bagley 26/04/2022

In the autumn of 2020, when the whole world suddenly came to a halt, city dwellers began concocting all kinds of escape fantasies. Some imagined moving to a rural area and becoming sustainable farmers; a number nursed long-dormant artistic ambitions; still others devised plans for new tech ventures, with visions of blockchains dancing in their heads.

But one Parisian couple, Victoire de Pourtalès and Benjamin Eymère, dreamed up a project that combined all three of these scenarios, plus a few more. Their bold new venture, as Eymère explains while steering his Citroen Ami electric buggy toward their hemp field in the French countryside, is a kind of highbrow ecological amusement park: “an open-sky R&D laboratory” that links art, nature and science.

It helps that the couple’s new base of operations is Le Château du Marais, a magnificent 980-acre estate in the French countryside that’s been in de Pourtalès’s family for generations—and that gives their enterprise, 91.530 Le Marais, its name (the number is courtesy of the local zip code). De Pourtalès grew up in its extraordinary Louis XVI-era château, encircled by a moat. But for her and Eymère, the main draws of the place are the forests and fields that surround it. And although wheat has always been the area’s chief crop, hemp got the couple’s attention for its potential as a sustainable super-plant: It requires no pesticides, grows quickly and can be used to make eco-friendly alternatives to pretty much anything, from construction materials to face creams. It’s biodegradable, of course, and because the entire plant can be used in various ways, there’s almost zero waste. They harvested their first crop in September. (Like marijuana, hemp is a cannabis, but its cultivation is not restricted since it contains minimal amounts of the psychoactive compound THC.)

Château du Marais

The couple checking on their hemp crop. Christopher Bagley

To those who knew the couple well during their previous lives at the heart of the Paris cultural scene, their new roles are only mildly surprising. Granted, they weren’t exactly farmer types: de Pourtalès cofounded VNH Gallery and was a director of David Zwirner’s Paris space until 2020, while Eymère is CEO of L’Officiel Inc., the international magazine group, and cofounder of the blended-sake brand Heavensake. But they and their two young sons have always spent weekends at the château, an hour south of the city. De Pourtalès’s father was an avid naturalist and homeopath who treated her childhood sniffles with potions made from herbs he gathered in the woods. She still likes to take invigorating dips in the moat.

Château du Marais

Coffee and croissants for breakfast. Christopher Bagley

Whenever they’re in work mode, both de Pourtalès and Eymère tend to think big. One of their early moves was hiring Kulapat Yantrasast, the Bangkok-born, Los Angeles– and New York–based architect who’s a favourite in the art world, to devise a plan for an outdoor arena adjacent to the hemp fields. Built primarily of wood and “greencrete”—a hemp-based answer to concrete—and surrounded by a newly planted bamboo forest, with two soaring portals at the entrance, the space will host cultural and community events, and maybe the occasional fashion show, after it’s completed next year. “You can do concerts, art shows, festivals, farmers markets, anything,” says Yantrasast. A former disciple of the Japanese architect and concrete master Tadao Ando, Yantrasast is gung-ho about hemp’s promise as a green building material. “Concrete is great, but it has its limitations,” he says. “It’s not recyclable. And hempcrete is much more porous, so it’s better at absorbing heat and sounds.”

Château du Marais

Architect Kulapat Yantrasast atop a hay bale near the outdoor arena he’s designing. Christopher Bagley

Part of what drew Yantrasast to the project was de Pourtalès and Eymère’s innovative approach to keeping the château’s history alive. Grand ancestral properties, Yantrasast points out, have a way of becoming money pits, and aristocratic families often fumble in their attempts to keep them going: “How do you sustain the glory of the past while bringing something new to it?”

The answer for de Pourtalès includes a year-round arts-and-culture program, which she sees as a natural extension of the estate’s terroir. The château has been a haven for artists and writers since the early 19th century, when memoirist Madame de la Briche hosted a well-known literary salon here and intellectuals such as François-René de Chateaubriand were frequent long-term guests. De Pourtalès’s great-grandmother, American-born heiress Anna Gould, continued the tradition after moving in in 1897 following her marriage to Count Boniface de Castellane. Today, de Pourtalès says, more and more artists are feeling a primal urge to live amid nature while using it as inspiration. Meanwhile, the Paris contemporary-art scene keeps gaining prominence worldwide, which is “great for the galleries and for the city—but sometimes we forget about the artists,” who don’t always have good spaces to create.

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The château’s ballroom. Christopher Bagley

In 2019, de Pourtalès began a residency program, hosting artists in some of the estate’s outbuildings. Last year, young French painter John Fou spent two months prepping an equestrian series that he exhibited in the form of a conceptual merry-go-round, inspired by the property’s 100-odd horses, with all the canvases positioned in a circle and facing inward. In October, Belgian artist Edith Dekyndt displayed a large piece of fabric that she’d buried on site for three months, part of her ongoing explorations of the mutability of everyday objects. Later this year, alongside a creek next to the arena, construction will begin on a village of at least two dozen “artist stables”—small studio dwellings, also made of greencrete and designed by Yantrasast. They’ll be available for overnight stays to all kinds of visitors, including school groups and nature-starved weekenders, as well as artists, musicians, architects and writers hungering for what de Pourtalès describes as a “creative community.”

Château du Marais

Artist John Fou in front of two of his paintings, inspired by the estate’s horses. Christopher Bagley

On the technological front, the couple have turned to the latest science to reimagine the old-school agrarian château model. Although the French countryside is dotted with picturesque farm plots, many outsiders don’t realise that the agricultural system here was industrialized decades ago. Eymère and de Pourtalès are looking to re-establish a more holistic, more sustainable connection between grower and land through the use of precision farming methods, which aim to increase productivity while reducing the environmental impact. A Russian company called Acron created a custom fertilizer for the hemp field’s clay-rich soil. Digital monitoring devices installed atop the portals of the arena will gather climate data that can be shared with neighbouring farms. And instead of just selling the crop at harvest time, the pair are heavily involved in developing the products that will contain their hemp, partnering with established small-scale manufacturers. In addition to the greencrete, they’re working on textiles and yarns, as well as natural oils for beauty products. A blockchain system will allow full traceability, “from the seedling all the way to the final material,” Eymère says.

“Bringing tech to the rural environment is a good business proposition, but it’s also a good artistic proposition,” he adds. “We are seeing more artists working with scientists.” The château’s inaugural art exhibit last summer, Phytocene, was the brainchild of two musicians and a biophysicist. After placing probes in the hemp field to track the intricate ways that individual plants communicate with one another, the artists turned the data into a video-and-sound piece and projected it on a giant wall in one of the estate’s stunning old granaries. At the time of writing, the couple are still planning the 2022 calendar, but already on the lineup is a dual residency by the young artists Bianca Bondi and Guillaume Bouisset, who intend to collaborate on an “alchemic installation” in the granaries involving halo-bacteria, minerals and crystals.

Château du Marais

Phytocene, a sound-and-video work by Agoria, Nicolas Becker and Nicolas Desprat, exhibited in a former granary. Christopher Bagley

Like more and more French people their age and younger, de Pourtalès and Eymère, both 40, possess an entrepreneurial instinct that runs counter to the rigid and retrograde stereotypes that have often plagued their countrymen (particularly the ones who live in castles). Eymère has a law degree from NYU, and de Pourtalès has organized art exhibits on multiple continents; their social circle skews predominantly creative and international. “Without the foreigners, Paris is not Paris,” de Pourtalès says. “Of course, some Parisians will say that they’re very happy without foreigners, but they can’t survive without them.”

A few of the couple’s more cautious friends have asked them if they’re attempting to tackle too much. Among their latest product ideas is a hemp-based artisanal gin. De Pourtalès smiles and shrugs. “Yes, it’s ambitious,” she says of 91.530 Le Marais. “But we’re doing it little by little. It’s really a lifetime project.”

Château du Marais

A view of the moat and gardens. Christopher Bagley

De Pourtalès and Eymère have also just renovated and moved into the château’s 18th-century carriage house, which is closer to the farm than the grand main residence (where de Pourtalès’s mother and aunt still live). They’ve stocked the place with contemporary artworks—ceramic pieces by Eric Croes, a painting by Cy Gavin, a tiled installation by Mimosa Echard—and enrolled their sons in the village school. From their garden they can hear the tractors, smell the horses and monitor any storm clouds that threaten the fields.

“I used to find it boring when farmers talked constantly about the weather,” de Pourtalès says. But after the couple planted their first round of bamboo seedlings last summer, they endured several straight days of downpours. “It just kept on raining! So of course that’s all we talked about. Then we totally understood. Farming becomes your life.”


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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls).

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000.

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950.

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000.

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000.

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100.

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000.

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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